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Power Rankings Week 14: Colts are stuck in the middle

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NFL: DEC 01 Titans at Colts Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Colts season has not gone nearly to plan, and that is reflected in their middling spot on this week’s slate of power rankings. This was a team that seemed destined for Super Bowl contention at the outset of training camp, and with the loss of Andrew Luck to retirement as well as most of their receivers to one injury or another, the team has simply been unable to overcome such a burden.

Chris Ballard has consistently been able to find difference makers in the draft, and he’ll need to do so again if this team wants to take another step forward. For now, they will hang out in no man’s land and hope that they get some help from opposing teams if they want any chance at a postseason in 2019.

Here’s where they stack up in this week’s rankings:

ESPN has the Colts at 15th.

Who’s under fire: Special-teams unit and coaches.

Veteran Adam Vinatieri has been a major part of the Colts’ special-teams problems, having missed 14 kicks and costing Indianapolis two games this season. But the unit, which was one of the top groups in the NFL a couple of years ago, has struggled as a whole all season. Poor blocking on the line has led to Vinatieri seeing three attempts blocked this season, including a potential go-ahead kick that was returned for a 63-yard touchdown in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee.

NFL.com has the Colts at 16th.

If the Colts are sitting at home come playoff time, this will be the game that sticks with them the most. Leading the Titans 17-7 in the third quarter, Indy looked to be in prime position to solidify its playoff chances and deal a crushing setback to a division rival. But a stunning collapse on special teams led to a blocked field-goal attempt and touchdown return for Tennessee. Minutes later, after another key mistake -- this time a Jacoby Brissett interception -- the Titans were back in the end zone again. From 17-7 to 17-17 to 31-17 in a flash. Brissett wasn’t nearly sharp enough in the second half, but he’s in a tough spot. Playing without Marlon Mack (hand), T.Y. Hilton (calf) and Eric Ebron (ankle), the Colts simply don’t have the firepower to put teams away. They’ll finish with three of four away from home.

Yahoo! Sports has the Colts at 14th.

Jacoby Brissett is starting to get some heat. He has two touchdowns and three interceptions in five games (in one of those games he threw only five passes before injuring his knee). Brissett is capable but he’s not going to carry an offense, especially with as many key injuries as the Colts have.

USA Today has the Colts at 15th.

Kicking woes continue to kill them. It’s not all Adam Vinatieri’s fault, as evidenced by Sunday’s two blocks, but they’ve now left 30 points on board over course of season.

Bleacher Report has the Colts at 15th.

If the Indianapolis Colts fail to advance to the postseason in 2019, we’ll look back at the last two weeks as the reason.

After losing a heartbreaker to the rival Texans in Week 12, the Colts opened up a 10-point lead over the Tennessee Titans at home on Sunday. But the team fell apart after that with a combination of Jacoby Brissett interceptions and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown contributing to 24 unanswered points and a 14-point loss that dropped the Colts into third place in the AFC South.

Brissett topped 300 passing yards, but his pair of picks were killers. Without Marlon Mack on the field, the Colts were able to gain only 82 yards on the ground. And Indy’s defense had no answer for tailback Derrick Henry, who gashed the Colts for 149 yards and a score on 26 carries.

The loss leaves the Colts in a precarious spot in the postseason race. But with just one remaining game against a team with a winning record, all hope isn’t quite lost yet.

However, both the Steelers and Raiders own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Colts—so the team is going to need help down the stretch.

”It’s just not in the cards for Jacoby Brissett, who has posted a sub-90 passer rating in four of his last five games,” Gagnon said. “He can’t consistently stretch the field and his limitations are becoming glaring. Gotta do more with that offensive line. The Colts are too talented to enter next season with this guy under center.”

AFC South Rivals

Texans

ESPN: 9

NFL: 7

Yahoo!: 9

USA Today: 5

B/R: 8

Jaguars

ESPN: 26

NFL: 24

Yahoo!: 25

USA Today: 30

B/R: 30

Titans

ESPN: 12

NFL: 11

Yahoo!: 11

USA Today: 11

B/R: 11